Citing French "Archives départementales"

I've come across an ancestor who died in WW1, but whose death registration was delayed until 1922. For this reason, I'm trying to be careful with making a precise citation of the image I've fount in the departmental archives of Jura, France.

The microfilms for the Ètat Civil, clerks copy, are almost always not true books, even though the records are often bound.

The French archives all have a somewhat similar, but odd, way of organizing their sites and referencing their imaged microfilms. As I have a number of references to cite, I'm trying to come up with a somewhat standard way of citing them. 

To uniquely identify the "collection", I've had to cobble together the following "extended" title. I'm pretty sure I can do this for other references as well.

Does the follow make sense?

Source List:

France. Archives départementales du Jura. http://archives39.fr : 2022.

First Reference Note:

État Civil, Série du greffe : naissances, décès, mariages, publications de mariage, commune de Montaigu, 1913–1922, browsable images, Archives départementales du Jura(http://archives39.fr/ark:/36595/a011423563601nsJIoG/167977bd47 : downloaded 1 December 2022) > image 103, acte no. 6 (12 May 1922), "Transcription du décès de Liégeois, Auguste, décédé le 25 avril 1918, 'Mort pour la France'"; archival reference, 3E/10824, Archives départementales du Jura, Montmorot (39362), Franche Comté, France.

Subsequent Note:

État Civil, Série du greffe : naissances, décès, mariages, publications de mariage. (3E/10824), commune de Montaigu, 1913–1922, acte no. 6 (12 May 1922), "Transcription du décès de Liégeois, Auguste, décédé le 25 avril 1918, 'Mort pour la France'".

Submitted byEEon Fri, 12/02/2022 - 16:15

H-H, at the website you cite, I do not find a database called entitled "Série du greffe : naissances, décès, mariages, publications de mariage," and there is no author called État Civil. (État-civil, of course, is a broad category of record-type.) Nor is that the title of the depicted volume. If I (or someone else--or you at a later date) were to make a typo in that URL so that it is no longer workable, how would we relocate this record?

I can see why some of my European colleagues find it so difficult to cite their local records according to EE style. The websites and the archived data are structured so differently from those in North America. This is a topic that could use more discussion at some later date.

My post was actually prompted by my confusion at reading the EE example in the following post; https://www.evidenceexplained.com/index.php/comment/5254#comment-5254

"
Following these basics would give us this citation for the image:

         Archives Départementales des Vosges (https://diffusion.ad88.ligeo-archives.com/ark:/50275/vta528b6619f3454/daogrp/0/layout:linear : accessed 23 September 2021) > images 7–8, Naissance de Charles-Jule Poirson, b. 4 September 1855 (registered 5 September 1855), natural son of Marie Poirson; citing Commune Lemmecourt (Vosges, France), État Civil, archived as Cote 4E270/3-43818, Archives Départementales des Vosges, Épinal, France.


"

I had not expected to have to refer to the trailing "citing..." portion to get any inkling of what was actually being cited; the État Civil for Commune Lemmecourt (Vosges, France). That is why I was trying to use something similar to the descriptive title one uses for a census. If that is not permissible, then surely there must be a better way than relegating such important information to the end of the citation.

The URL of the above EE example, if malformed, also renders the citation equally "unworkable". That is; unless one realizes that the archival reference number, as also included in my attempted citation, can be used in the sites search function and will take one to the first image of the imaged film. So; all is definitely not lost due to a malformed URL. The ability to search for an archival reference number appears fairly typical of French sites. In fact; it is likely one of the best ways to locate the initial image from which one can use the image number to find the target one.

My attempted citation made it clear that, "Série du greffe : naissances, décès, mariages, publications de mariage", is not a database. It is clearly stated as being "browsable images" and is the sites version of a collection. Below; I have provided a pointer to where I obtained the information.

If one goes to the catalog record page, http://archives39.fr/ark:/36595/a011423563601nsJIoG, it shows the title/description of the imaged film for archival reference 3E/10824. This is what I used to form the title and supporting wording.

Série du greffe : naissances, décès, mariages, publications de mariage.

  • Cote : 

    3E/10824

  • Date : 

    1913-1922

  • Communicabilité : 

    NC numérisé

  • Modalités de sélection des documents : 

    Conservation

  • Mots-clés 


 

Submitted byEEon Sat, 12/03/2022 - 08:29

H-H, you write:

I had not expected to have to refer to the trailing "citing..." portion to get any inkling of what was actually being cited; the État Civil for Commune Lemmecourt (Vosges, France)

We cite what we use. If we’re using the website, rather than the original record set, and (a) we cannot access the record by going to the series:volume and if (b) the images we are shown do not adequately identify the volume, then (c) we have to cite the original within the framework of the website that we’re using.

This means: (a) we lead with the website, (b) the specific information from the image is placed in the specific item field, and (c) we use the “citing …” layer to report what the website tells us about the imaged source.

You wrote:

I can see why some of my European colleagues find it so difficult to cite their local records according to EE style. The websites and the archived data are structured so differently from those in North America. This is a topic that could use more discussion at some later date.

Actually, the differences are discussed at length in EE, not only in the general chapter on using archival records (Chapter 3) but also within the context of specific record types; and EE provides examples for those European differences.  This also leads back to your statement that I first quoted above:

I had not expected to have to refer to the trailing "citing..." portion to get any inkling of what was actually being cited. 

As a point of fact, traditional European citations have always put the exact item (“what was actually being cited”) as the last piece information in the citation. As EE 3.3 points out:

  • “United States … Reference Note citations start with smallest element in the citation and work up to the largest (the archive and its location).
  • “Internationally …  Reference Note citations usually start with the largest and work down to the smallest.”

Indeed, a traditional European citation would just tersely cite Name of archives, series number/piece number, with no description at all of the record being used. 

In my own observation across the 15 years that EE has been in print and across 20 years before that in dealing with European writers as editor of the NGS Quarterly, is this: European objections to “American style” citations basically contend that Americans make them "too complicated." European writers argued that the purpose of a citation was to tell the reader where to go to find the record—and that it should be done as succinctly as possible. In contrast, serious American researchers in our field, since the 1970s, have argued an even more important second reason: to provide sufficient detail about the record that its trustworthiness ("evidentiary value") can be reasonably assessed. And that, of course, is the rationale behind EE’s Evidence Style citations.

You write:

My attempted citation made it clear that, "Série du greffe : naissances, décès, mariages, publications de mariage", is not a database. It is clearly stated as being "browsable images"

H-H, if we put something in quotation marks, that means we are quoting exactly. If we create a generic title using our own wording, we do not put quotation marks around it. 

  • EE 2.22: “When [you create] your own generic description … you do not use quotation marks because you are not quoting anything.”
  • EE 7.38, “Quotation marks around Register Label: Because you are using a generic label to identify the register, you should not put quotation marks around your own words.”
  • EE 11.1 “When an item lacks a title and you create a generic description, you do not use quotation marks around your own words.”

Regarding the phrase "browsable images," unfortunately that phrase does not clearly distinguish what you've used. All online images are browsable. Every page of a book is browsable. FamilySearch introduced that phrase as a way of saying "We haven't gotten around to indexing this set of records yet but, hey, they're still usable; all you have to do is browse them."  Within that context, if we use "browsable" as a synonym for "not indexed," then it mischaracterizes a number of other websites.

All things considered, for your état civil record, an Evidence Style citation would use the format discussed at https://www.evidenceexplained.com/index.php/comment/5254#comment-5254—for all the reasons laid out there.

 

Submitted byHistory-Hunteron Sat, 12/03/2022 - 10:23

Thank you for clarifying the North American point-of-view and how it is reflected in the EE-style citations. I think that is part of the reason that I often question why some things are done in a particular way as part of the EE-style.

I must admit that I unconsciously tend to side with the European point-of-view. Within limits, I find that the "Name of archives, series number/piece number" would adequately describe what was consulted. This is because I believe that establishing the "trustworthiness" of a citation depends upon far more than what can be presented in the citation itself. So; I would typically expect an in-depth assessment of "trustworthiness" to be part of an analysis report assessing the item and its content.

I do, however, appreciate the EE-style adds value in that it tries to address citing a remotely consulted item. That is a large part of why I continue to try and reconcile my point-of-view with the specifics of the EE-style.
 

Yes, indeed, H-H, an evaluation of the reliability of any piece of evidence will usually go considerably beyond the details that can be included in a citation.

That said, the examination of a record to determine how it should be cited—or the examination of someone else's citation—is our first and most-fundamental level of evaluation. That's where we usually determine whether a source is an original or a derivative, whether it's (say) a land grant (and, if so, what type) or a deed or a mortgage, whether we're using a court minute book or a complete court file, whether a web page presents a document or an index entry, etc.

Evidence Style citations do attempt to provide a foundation on which one can knowledgeably build an assessment of strengths and weaknesses.

I've tried to rework the citation to parallel the EE example, but I have a slight concern about the "citing..." clause in the following. Would you mind providing some feedback, as I have quite a few more to do and want to make sure I've understood the EE-style.

Archives Départementales du Jura (http://archives39.fr/ark:/naan/a011423563601nsJIoG/167977bd47 : downloaded 1 December 2022) > image 103, acte no. 6 (12 May 1922), "Transcription du décès de Liégeois, Auguste, décédé le 25 avril 1918, 'Mort pour la France'"; citing archival reference 3E/10824 (État Civil, "Série du greffe : naissances, décès, mariages, publications de mariage", commune de Montaigu, 1913–1922), Montmorot (39362), Franche Comté, France.

For the "citing..." clause; what I've put in parentheses is what the site has stated is a description of the item archived as 3E/10824. I've followed that with the stated location of the physical archive that one would visit to see the original. If I employ this general format for stating the information in the clause, would that break any "rules". I find that this approach makes sense to me, from a "European perspective", and yet appears to still follow the EE-style guidelines.

I've employed the ARK-reference for the initial frame of the imaged film. Then; "image 103" takes one to the frame from which the remaining reference information is taken. There really isn't a simple way to totally divorce the citation from using the ARK-reference. However; French records can usually be located via their archival reference. So; the inclusion of the information shown in the "citing.." clause is a reasonable "backup".

The "registration date" was placed in parentheses, as I've seen this done in other instances within the EE book. The description of the item-of-interest is a transcription the information following the act-number and is a good description of the content.

No, H-H, you've not "broken any rules" as far as EE is concerned. In that "citing ..." layer or a subsequent layer (within our working notes). Evidence Style allows one to add as much information as we feel the situation warrants. If you publish in a journal or produce a book-length work funded by a publisher, it might break some of their rules, but authors negotiate that during the publication stage.

Thank you.

The État Civil is such a key resource in French genealogy. So; one typically has a large number of citations to it. Having a somewhat regular citation pattern will make the work faster and less prone to error.

Just a note to anyone looking at my example and a concrete reason for including the archival reference...

The URL should be: http://archives39.fr/ark:/36595/a011423563601nsJIoG/167977bd47

--- Yes; I can hear a silent "I told you so" :>) ---

I see that the URL of the example has the string "naan" in it. This seems to be an on-and-off issue with using the sites "button" to copy the URL of frame 1 to your clipboard. It seems to always work for subsequent film images. I would suggest Always checking that your citation URL works prior to moving on to the next citation. Since I spotted the issue, I've been more diligent in performing this check.

Submitted byRobynRon Sun, 12/04/2022 - 00:43

Just a comment from someone who "cannot" read the French language, I thought that the initial citation may possibly have needed some "English" translation in the mix.Because I do not have the skills to read French (I can work out some words), I really have no clue what the below actually says, but I presume it is a marriage record? (having worked out the word mariages). But what does the rest say?

" État Civil, Série du greffe : naissances, décès, mariages, publications de mariage, commune de Montaigu, 1913–1922, browsable images, Archives départementales du Jura(http://archives39.fr/ark:/36595/a011423563601nsJIoG/167977bd47 : downloaded 1 December 2022) > image 103, acte no. 6 (12 May 1922), "Transcription du décès de Liégeois, Auguste, décédé le 25 avril 1918, 'Mort pour la France'"; archival reference, 3E/10824, Archives départementales du Jura, Montmorot (39362), Franche Comté, France."

RobynRon;

Actually; it's a 1918 WW1 death record. 'Mort pour la France' is essentially the French way of saying "Killed in action". You'll find a plenty of these "peculiar" ways of saying things in French; especially in correspondence.

This record is a bit unusual, because it's one that was transcribed into the local record book in 1922. The imaged record-set was, “Série du greffe : naissances, décès, mariages, publications de mariage”. That translates, essentially, as "Clerks series: births, death, marriages, marriage banns".

I don't usually transcribe French words and phrases within my citations. Being born in France, I understand them and also feel that translating some phrases doesn't always convey the full meaning. So; I will usually provide a discussion of the meaning of a record as part of a subsequent report. That gives me the space to discuss any fine points of meaning. If the citation contains something sufficiently important; I will sometimes add a discursive note to the citation and that would be in the language of the intended audience.

In this case, the quoted text is a transcription of the "header" for the record. It is there as a visual identifier of the correct record. With this text, even one who doesn't speak French can accurately locate the record. To add a translation, in this case, would add little in the way of locating the intended record and would make the citation a fair bit longer.

Hope the explanation helps.